Hertha Berlin’s relegation to the German second division was confirmed Monday after the DFB ruled that their relegation play-off against Fortuna Düsseldorf did not have to be replayed.
Fortuna’s 2-2 home draw on May 15 saw them win the German league relegation play-off 4-3 on aggregate and earn promotion to the Bundesliga at Hertha’s expense amidst chaotic scenes and a pitch invasion. Referee Wolfgang Stark had to suspend the game for around 20 minutes to clear the pitch and allow the final minute of the match to be played.
“The referee acted at all times according to the rules,” announced sports tribunal president Hans E. Lorenz. He said that several hundred Düsseldorf fans had stormed the pitch “not in a belligerent mood, not to commit violence, but to express over-zealous celebrations.”
He also suggested that the only hostile parties on the pitch were Hertha players, who surrounded and remonstrated with Stark amid the chaos at the end of the match.
Stark has pressed charges against one of these players for alleged assault. Police have refused to disclose the player’s name.
But Hertha’s lawyer Christoph Schickhardt announced the club’s decision to appeal just minutes after the ruling was announced. “That is not a ruling that we can accept, or what the sports public has to accept,” he told the press afterwards. “Do there have to be injuries? Those people climbing over the fence weren’t children.”
Hertha will now appeal to the DFB’s federal court, which is expected to hold a hearing on Thursday or Friday.